By Harrison Tarr
For the Opelika Observer
When head coach Matt Johnson and the Beulah Bobcats took the field in Valley, Alabama, on Friday night, the young group sought to seize the opportunity to pull off an upset win over what is widely considered to be one of the premier programs in their classification — the Montgomery Academy Knights.
By the second half of the contest, the gold and black were merely hoping to stay healthy in a game which resulted in a 49-0 loss, dropping Beulah to 1-4 on the season.
Despite being heavy underdogs, the Bobcats came out swinging on the opening kickoff with a 50-yard return from the goal line. For the fans of the gold and black, the contest was tough sledding from that point forward. From the first offensive snap, junior quarterback Noah Higdon and company struggled to find any form of success on offense, going three-and-out on their opening drive.
The leader of the Bobcats found a silver lining in his team’s lone spark of momentum.
“Our special teams played great tonight,” Johnson said. “Noah punted a lot, which is not good, but he did a great job; the kickoff return, our special teams have been really good all year.”
On the other side of the field, the visiting Knights wasted no time in finding their way to the endzone; Montgomery Catholic entered the contest with a clear plan to establish the run game early as evidenced by the team’s first touchdown via a 70-yard carry on the ground.
Johnson credited his team for not quitting on themselves despite the imminent uphill battle they faced.
“They know we weren’t giving up,” Johnson said. “It’s just the reality of the situation.”
As the first half progressed, the black and blue continued to build upon its run game, posting an additional four touchdowns on the ground. Johnson’s squad was unable to find any resemblance of a solution on offense.
Although the Bobcat play caller admits that the offensive struggles began with his team’s failure to win the battle in the trenches, he is hopeful that that his squad can develop from the experience.
“That’s the best defensive front that we’ll probably ever see,” Johnson said. “It was good to get a couple of good first downs and big plays. Hopefully that’ will give us some momentum going forward.”
At the half, Johnson’s squad headed to the locker room trailing 35-0.
The latter portion of Friday night’s contest was chalk-full of oddities. Before the final two periods of play, the decision was made to shorten the game to a pair of eight-minute, running-clock quarters, resulting in a second half that spanned just 20 minutes real time.
There was — however — one constant which remained throughout the clash: Montgomery Catholic Academy’s ability to score at will. Simply put, a running clock only presented the Knights the challenge of seeing how quickly they could score. The team’s response to said challenge was hanging an additional 14 points.
Johnson praised his opponents and claims that the defeat will serve as a motivator for his guys.
“These guys are the number three team in the state for a reason,” Johnson said. “To go ahead and get that out of the way and to play some talent we really think we can hang with — and beat — gives those guys some motivation.”
Maintaining a positive outlook was the theme for the Bobcats’ leader following the contest as Johnson says the team’s goals are still alive.
“We knew these last two games were the toughest opponents we were going to face,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs and that’s still out there. We’re still in the hunt.”
Johnson and the rest of the gold and black will have the opportunity to chase their playoff dreams in two weeks when they play host to region foe Childersburg. Kickoff between the Bobcats and the Tigers is set for 7 p.m. CST at Bobcat Stadium.